William Shakespeare 's Hamlet - Suicide And Selfhood Essay

1365 Words6 Pages
“This above all, to thine own self be true” (Shakespeare 1.3.78)--suicide and selfhood: two issues that Hamlet ruminates on throughout Hamlet. Shakespeare reveals the connection between these two ideas through his references to Christianity throughout the play. By juxtaposing characters’ treatment of suicide and murder--two equally grave sins in a world governed by Christian morals--Shakespeare presents suicide as the greater sin because it represents something worse: the annihilation of the self. Through this contrast, Shakespeare reveals to his audience the hypocrisy of those who follow religion. Shakespeare introduces suicide as a tantalizing possibility; however, Hamlet ultimately deems it to be unacceptable because of his Christianity. Hamlet fixates on the prospect of killing himself throughout the play. As early as the second scene, he exclaims “oh that this too too sullied flesh would melt,/Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,/Or that the Everlasting had not fixed/His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter” (Shakespeare 1.2.129-132). At this point, Hamlet is still unaware of his Uncle’s treachery and yet he still feels such deep despair that he considers suicide. Although religious mandates constrain Hamlet from taking his own life, he still wants to. His troubles are so overwhelming that he is unable to ignore the possibility. Later in the play, he remarks “to die, to sleep--/No more--and by a sleep to say we end/The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that the

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